There he is, beyond my mare’s mud crusted back. He’s not here anymore. One eye bad, suspensory ligaments going, each day couched in pain for the old guy. He wasn’t mine, but he lived with my mare. She tried to teach him what a stud needs to do when a mare is in season, and he gave it the old college try, but ultimately, the stress on his legs was too much and he resorted to telling her to bugger off. It was better that way for cohabitation, but worse for him because it drew the end nigh.
I wasn’t there for his passing. The vet gave him a quick and easy exit. He had spent the day grazing on a yard of juicy spring grasses and had consumed an entire box of Rice Crispy Treats the day before. His last days had to have been some of his best. He was well loved.
Making the decision to euthanize always presses painfully on my normally exuberant psyche. Only a few short weeks ago I helped ease my 15 year old dog to the doggone beyond. I kept hoping he would gently exhale and float away peacefully, but he refused to let go that easily and delegated that decision to me. The hour before the veterinarian was due to arrive at our home was the hardest. My heart clenched, my eyes smarted, tear-blasted, until my breath finally accepted the inevitable. I regained my composure for him, for I knew that would be best. His last exhale was gentle, with his black and white head cradled in my lap. His ice-blue eyes became fixed, pupils dilated. My son gentle closed the lids. Even in death, the eyes kept opening, tempting me to believe he might still be in there.
While I helped the vet carry the body out to her car, I half-expected Romeo to jump back to life, to stay with me, to give corporal permanence to the indelible dog-shaped mark he’d emblazoned on my memory, but no. His body only flopped, completely devoid of what he once was.
It was the right thing to do. This is what we say. This is what we know. It doesn’t make it any easier.
To all good dogs and all good horses, and all are good, may a peaceful exit be yours.